Frozen guts and cold fish

Published 11:30 am Saturday, January 27, 2018

Spirit of Moonpie and I spent the 20th through the 22nd on the Blackwater below the steel bridge. The water was finally high enough for me to get up there. It has been terribly low just about all year. The water was also the coldest I have ever seen with a new record for me of 31.5 degrees. That was, however, taken in a gut that was completely frozen over; the water in the main part of the river was a balmy 32.7. Air temps on this trip ranged from 26 to 60 degrees.

It was actually very nice the entire trip and I was so happy to get back on the river. Dec. 19 was the date that I was last on the river, and that’s just waaay too long to be off the water for me.

Trash on this trip was not too bad. I picked up about a half a bag, most of it of course from around the area of Burdette Bridge. Speaking of that bridge, I darn near got decapitated on Sunday going through the bridge. There was a guy up on the bridge fishing and he did not see me and I did not see his line in the water ‘till it was too late. I’m just glad he was not using real strong fishing line or I might not be writing this today. That’s about the dumbest thing I have seen recently on the river. Not only is that dangerous for boaters, but it is, of course, extremely dangerous for the idiot fishing from the bridge. It’s a BRIDGE, not a PIER! Anyway, I have contacted VDOT and VDGIF and NO FISHING signs will be up there soon enough so we can put an end to that.

The fishing on this trip was pretty good in my opinion. I caught only one speckle and one raccoon perch, but what I was really after was the hard-fighting blackfish. After a slow start the first day they finally started biting. But to catch them I had to clear an entire gut of ice. Yes the guts were still frozen out there and the fish were cold. I ended up catching about 20 blackfish (Bowfin), two were over 9 pounds and darn near trophy-worthy. I chunked one out on the ice so the bald eagle that hangs around that gut could feast out.

Moonpie wanted to get out on the ice and play fish hockey, but I told her that was way to dangerous and besides that would be a little on the cruel side. I believe the eagle did get that fish too ‘cause the next day when we came back it was gone. I guess a coon could have walked out there on the ice and got it, but I think it was the eagle … hope so anyway.

So it was a fantastic trip for my first time on the river as RiverGuard. Hope all that sub-zero weather is gone for the rest of the year so I can soon return on one of the two rivers we call the Blackwater and Nottoway.

JEFF TURNER is the Blackwater Nottoway RiverGuard.